Monday, November 05, 2012

When it comes to a death

The Holiest Moment

There is a dear friend who asked me for a prayer at a time when a loved one is fading fast. In my line of work, I spend a significant amount of time with those who must keep that vigil. I must say, it is an awesome moment, in the very purest sense of that word. And to keep that vigil with a loved one, as excruciatingly painful as it must, by its nature be, is also a moment of exquisite grace.

So here are several suggestions

I have not one prayer but many.
Beginning with the 23rd Psalm
The 42nd and 43rd Psalm
The 121st Psalm
The 46th Psalm
And many, many others. Please comment your suggestions below.

Note, sometimes just sitting very quietly and collectedly as if God were sitting down with you in the Presence of the Most Holy Moment there is in life (which of course is the case at all times and at all places)

I like to sing, favorite hymns, but curiously childhood hymns seem so appropriate, like "Jesus Loves Me".

"Love Divine", "Come thou Fount of Every Blessing"...singing very quietly with a broken voice, off tune or in tune, it doesn't matter at all, just that the audible sound of your voice is there to comfort you and your loved one, and perhaps with the your hand in the hand of your loved one. 

Lots of silence with reassurance of how much in the I-Thou relationship of two persons is itself an image of the relationship of each to God.  And that between every single relationship, God lives in the mystery of that I-Thou. There is in this a great teaching; one that helps us treasure more, the loves and lives God gives us.

I love this prayer;

"Come Lord Jesus, and be my companion along the way, kindly our hearts and awaken hope, that I may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and in the Breaking of Bread."
Nice to have a priest bring communion at some point.

The material in the Book of Common Prayer at the time of sickness is also very helpful. BCP 453 and following.

There is this has come to me in various forms over the years.
But its general structure is this.

A Prayer
By Fr Paul

Jesus son of God, have Mercy upon me. 3X

Jesus, (pause long enough to collect yourself and KNOW the Presence of Jesus. And if there are tears, at any time in all of this, let them flow freely) 
Look upon us in your love and compassion. 
This is a time of sadness and sorrow.
We lie here in weakness 
Wondering where we are
Where we are going

This is why we come to You
And throw our cares upon you.
There is weakness and there is fear
There is agitation of spirit

But this I know
In you there is strength for those who suffer.
With you there is courage for those whose tears 
Are tears as of the Blessed Mother keeping her watch with You.
With you there is that Peace that Passes all understanding.

And there is this,
I am doing the best I can do,
And sometimes it doesn't seem quite enough or quite right
But because I am so weak now
I must cast my care on you
And listen for the sacred word

Here Jesus speaks with your voice
And particularly where there is an especially difficult moment of agitation

"You are doing fine"
"There, there, that is exactly the right thing to do"
"I am here, I love you"
"All is forgiven"
"All is love"
"All is reconciled"
"Come to me"

(Stop here, and rest a while)

"Come to me"

In whatever state of agitation or weakness
You calmly wipe my brow and cool my tongue with your 
Sweet words of calm assurance and love.
Come, Lord Jesus, and walk with me along the Way that leads to You.

Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you.

Wait and watch.
Repeat as necessary.

The Litany at the time of Death is especially appropriate as the end nears and is upon us.
The family gathers. 
Say the ancient prayers.
Read the ancient words.

A Prayer for a Person near Death
Almighty God, look on this your servant, lying in great
weakness, and comfort him with the promise of life
everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Litany at the Time of Death from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 462
When possible, it is desirable that members of the family and friends
come together to join in the Litany.
God the Father,
Have mercy on your servant.
God the Son,
Have mercy on your servant.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on your servant.

Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on your servant.
From all evil, from all sin, from all tribulation,
Good Lord, deliver him.
By your holy Incarnation, by your Cross and Passion, by
your precious Death and Burial,
Good Lord, deliver him.
By your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the
Coming of the Holy Spirit,
Good Lord, deliver him.
We sinners beseech you to hear us, Lord Christ: That it may
please you to deliver the soul of your servant from the power
of evil, and from eternal death,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you mercifully to pardon all his sins,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to grant him a place of refreshment
and everlasting blessedness,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please you to give him joy and gladness in your
kingdom, with your saints in light,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.
Jesus, Lamb of God:
Have mercy on him.
Jesus, bearer of our sins:
Have mercy on him.

Jesus, redeemer of the world:
Give him your peace.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.Lord, have mercy.
Officiant and People 
Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our tresspasses,
    as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your Name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those
        who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
    and deliver us from evil.

The Officiant says this Collect
Let us pray.

Deliver your servant, N., O Sovereign Lord Christ, from all
evil, and set him free from every bond; that he may rest with
all your saints in the eternal habitations; where with the
Father and the Holy Spirit your live and reign, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen.

A Commendation at the Time of Death
Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.
May your rest be this day in peace,
    and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.

A Commendatory Prayer
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your
servant N. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of
your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your
own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the
glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the
mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


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